Story: Presbyterian Church

Dunedin: Thomas Burns (2nd of 3)

Dunedin: Thomas Burns

The Reverend Thomas Burns was a founder of Dunedin. Following the 1843 'Disruption', which split the Church of Scotland and created the Free Church, Burns, together with William Cargill, vigorously promoted a Free Church settlement in New Zealand. He personally selected the first migrants and kept a pastoral eye on their welfare after their arrival. Burns set up a strong organisation for the Presbyterian Church in Otago and was its undisputed head. He supported public education and was the foundation chancellor of the University of Otago. Critics condemned his stern puritanism, but he was well-regarded by most Otago settlers. This photo, taken in the 1860s, shows him dressed in a Genevan preaching gown and holding a Bible.

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Alexander Turnbull Library
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How to cite this page:

Ben Schrader, 'Presbyterian Church - Church building and missions', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 June 2022)

Story by Ben Schrader, published 5 May 2011, updated 1 Mar 2017